I’ve already mentioned, more than once, that I receive regular news alerts about anything having to do with homelessness. These alerts are sent directly to my email’s inbox.
I do this for two reasons: One, because I’m interested in what is happening with regards to homelessness anywhere – particularly in the United State; and two, because I don’t have the time to manually check all of the various news sources.
Each day when these alerts arrive, I scan their headlines, and straightaway read the ones which catch my eye. Then I go back and read the rest.
Every so often these news articles have a positive and inspirational ending. A homeless person has somehow managed to turn their life around and now is on the right track to becoming a functioning member of the community. Or some local person or group has taken the proverbial bull by the horns and have made the difference the life of some homeless person or group of homeless persons.
Most of the time however, the articles are filled with news that is extremely disheartening. The numbers of homeless are rising; it’s been discovered that there are more homeless in a city than had been thought; some homeless support service agency is either on the brink of having to close or has closed.
And then there are times when the articles are filled with the nonsensical manner with which some local municipality is "dealing" with homelessness in their community.
Over to the lower right, is a drop down box with a list of "categories" which every one of my post have been labeled with: Homelessness, Children, Family, Veterans, Misconceptions… well, you get the idea.
Lately I’ve been thinking of adding a new category: Stuck On Stupid.
Or perhaps I may just begin a SLO Homeless Stuck On Stupid Award.
The "award" would be bestowed upon those persons, organizations, local governments and others who have shown their extreme propensity in a lack of understanding on how to remedy homelessness in their communities.
Case in point…
In the Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday was an article titled, Homelessness initiative has long uphill battle in Philadelphia.
The article began by mentioning a proposed plan to renovate an abandoned convent into 12 efficiency units for the homeless. The plan had the backing of one of Philadelphia’s city council persons. 69 neighbors within a three block radius supported the plan. It also had about a million dollars in federal funding to make it happen.
The only thing required to make this dream a reality was a "zoning variance." That was roughly a month or so ago.
On June 3rd, despite strong support for the project, Philadelphia’s Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) denied the request for a zoning variance. Moreover, they did not give a reason for denying the request.
According to the article, Lynette Brown-Sow, who is the vice chair of the ZBA,
the board felt there were already too many "group homes and group living facilities" in the area.
"Some homeowners and residents felt their neighborhood was being oversaturated," Brown-Sow said. She said "possibly 10" people from the immediate area opposed the project.
Excuse me… did I miss something here?
The conversion wasn’t going to be turned into a "group home." It was slated to become 12 efficiency units: individual "dwelling" units. It had a large and diverse number of supporters, including 69 of its future "neighbors."
Yet, the zoning variance was denied because "possibly 10" people objected.
Hello! Is it just me, or does anyone else think there is something extremely wrong with this picture? And what is up with the "possibly 10" people nonsense? Were there 10 people who objected? Were there more than 10 people who objected? Were there less than 10 people who objected? Or did the ZBA pull the "possibly 10" number out of thin air?
Sounds pretty bogus to me.
What is even more disheartening is that this type of scenario plays itself out all across the nation. City council meetings are held. A minority group of dissenters belly ache, and the local municipal government cow-tows instead of doing what’s right. Then, folks have the arrogance to moan and groan that "something needs to be done about the homeless." Why is it that no one seems to say, "Something needs to be done to help the homeless?"
If I remember my history lessons correctly, the United States Constitution was written in Philadelphia by what was known as the "Constitutional Convention." Also, I seem to recall that the "Liberty Bell" is in Philadelphia. And, the name Philadelphia is two Greek words which mean "City of Brotherly Love."
I guess that in Philadelphia, the Bill of Rights extends itself only to those who have a roof over their heads – all others are excluded.
As for Liberty, by denying the zoning variance, Philadelphia has condemned some of its citizens to the prison of continued homelessness.
As for being the City of Brother Love, it seems that Philadelphia is more a city of prejudice and intolerance toward those who are "residentially challenged."
Late yesterday afternoon, I left a comment on the Wandering Vets blog. In part that comment said:
"If we want to actually have an impact on reducing the numbers of homeless in our society, we must become a nation who is less talk and more action."
Talking about homelessness; saying that something needs to be done about "those people" isn’t the answer – and it certainly isn’t a solution.
If we want to reduce the numbers of homeless in our communities, we need to open up our eyes, minds and hearts and find ways of assisting the homeless become housed. That’s the only solution that will effectively work.
Oh, by the way…
Congratulations to the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment and to those "possibly 10" people who opposed the Germantown project.
You’ve been awarded the 1st ever SLO Homeless Stuck On Stupid Award.
Wear it in shame.